Flounders or fluke are a benthic (bottom-feeding) flatfish species. As young fish, flounders have an eye on either side of their body; but as they mature, their left eye migrates to the other side! With both of their eyes on one side, the fish are able to lay on the ocean floor to protect itself from predators. Flounders can also change colors so they blend into their environment. With both eyes on one side and their camouflage abilities, flounders are elusive fish! Most of our flounders are called summer flounders, found all along the East Coast of the US and Canada.
Storage and Cleaning
Place your flounder in the refrigerator as soon as possible!
- Store the fresh fish in the coldest part of your refrigerator (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to two days.
- To freeze your fish, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper to prevent freezer burn. Place the wrapped fish in a heavy duty freezer bag if you'd like to go the extra mile! Freezing your raw flounder will preserve the fish for about 2 to 3 months.
To remove the guts: All you have to do is make a tiny incision near the gill and pull everything out through there. This video shows you how to do it. Even better, you can watch our director Talia demonstrate in these videos: part 1, part 2, and part 3! You can also just cut the head off entirely.
To scale: Fluke have super small scales. So you are better off using a knife to scrape them off than a scaler. Just use a sharp knife, and go against the grain, as demonstrated here (~2:00). Because they’re so small, the scales also won’t fly everywhere, as tends to happen with other fish! Another option is slicing the skin off, as demonstrated here (~1:30).
Flounder is a white fish with a delicate texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor. It's popular, especially for those who are newer to seafood or don't like their fish too fishy! Check out our recipes page for inspiration!
If you want to cook your fish whole: “Cooking and Fishing” is a YouTube channel created by a Chinese chef who frequently fishes in NJ waters and shares “catch and cook” videos that show the whole journey of catching a fish to creating a meal with it. He’s shared several ways to prepare flounder, including:
Crispy fried flounder w/ sweet soy (this video shows him removing the head entirely to cook)
Roast fluke (this video shows more of the prep process than the video below)
Roast fluke w/ a jerk-honey rub & topped off with preserved lemons (a different flavor profile from the video above)
Fluke in butter-caper-lemon sauce (this video shows filleting)
If you want to fillet your fish: Fluke’s bone structure makes for easy filleting. Here are a few filleting videos that are good for beginners!
More on flounder
Fluke are demersal fish, meaning they live at the bottom of the ocean. They can be found in shallow to fairly deep waters from Maine to South Carolina. Especially in warmer months, they prefer sandy mud bottoms of bays, harbors, the mouth of estuaries, and other areas where saltwater mixes with fresh. They range in size from 2-5 pounds all the way to up to 15-20 pounds. The mondo ones are also known as “doormats!"
The term “Fluke” is used to refer to Summer Flounder and its close relatives, the Southern & Gulf Flounder. The word likely comes from the old Norse world floke, which means “flat.” In NJ and other North Atlantic waters, fluke is interchangeable with summer flounder. Despite its name, summer flounder can be caught around here in colder months as well. But they are most easily caught by both commercial and recreational fisherfolk in warmer months, when they come inshore. Winter flounder also live in NJ waters. Winter flounder are darker than summer flounder, and they are less common to see around NJ in summer months, when they migrate more north or into deeper waters.
Fluke are a mainstay with sport anglers in NJ, who fish them from bridges, jetties, the beach, and small boats, using light tackle or live bait. In fact, Fishadelphia team members Feini and Omi enjoy fluke fishing with artificial lures called Gulp! in the summer. If you’d like to learn how to fish for fluke in NJ, we recommend checking out the YouTube channel “Cooking and Fishing.” They also feature lots of catch & cook videos with yummy ways to cook fluke, especially with Chinese cooking!
- Do they migrate? They come inshore during the spring and summer and retreat to deeper and warmer water in the fall and winter.
What do they eat (and what eats them)? Summer flounder are bottom-feeders that eat all kinds of critters, including other fishes, crabs, shrimp, squids, and worms. They are a common prey item for sharks, eels, and humans.
Photo: @fishadelphia.csf, Fishadelphia's Feini holds their freshly caught flounder
Last updated: 01/3/2023